Why arts education is important

By Susanna Ritz

Working with Lycée Français students for their week-long residency at the Ogden Museum has had some fantastic results.

For example, these talented 2nd graders have learned to be sharp observers, strengthened their communication skills through discussion, connected visual art to aspects of their own culture, history, and community, and also created wonderful and imaginative artworks.

Something that has stood out to me is how connected students are to the world around them. Sometimes when we think of children, we think of them as living in their own bubble, but they constantly soak up new information and relate it to what they are learning. For example, one student, clearly impacted in some way by recent news, created a portrait collage entitled “Girl in Hijab”. When sharing with the class about her artwork, she commented that she found the clothing and head covering of Muslim women beautiful.

Creating visual art gives students an opportunity to reach a part of themselves that they cannot yet articulate fully, but expressing their thoughts and feelings is a part of their process of understanding and essential to a healthy, well-rounded education.

Suzanna Ritz is an artist who has worked with our students at the Ogden.